Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare
Fasting And Prayer Enables God's Purpose - Esther 5:9-7:6
When God wanted to remind King Ahasuerus of Mordecai's valorous deed, He removed all sleep from his eyes. After tossing and turning, the king occupied the night hours listening to a servant read the Persian chronicles to him. This pagan man didn't dream God had selected his reading material and was the One keeping him awake!
Sleep kindly dulls some thoughts and erases others. However, the king's intention to honor Mordecai remained very fresh, because God didn't let him even nap the rest of the night. He was bright-eyed until morning, when quite early Haman walked into the outer court with his own agenda.
True to Persian practice, Ahasuerus sought advice from his early-rising chief prince. "Haman, if I want to honor someone, what should I do for him?"
What Does Pride Hear?
When the king posed his question, Haman had only himself in mind. Pride is deceptive, blinding and intensely self-centered. In spite of it, Haman was about to receive another opportunity to bow before God. When he appears at the final judgment, he can never accuse Him of not warning and showing him mercy.
Haman envisioned himself when he answered:
- Select a royal robe the king has worn.
- Bring out the horse on which King Ahasuerus has ridden, the one which wore a royal crown.
- Let the prince whom the king wishes to honor wear the robe and be mounted on the horse.
- Lead him through the main square of the city.
- Proclaim as he goes, "Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor!"
Ahasuerus liked it! "Do exactly what you have said for Mordecai the Jew. He's sitting at my gate!"
It took all Haman's strength to hide his animosity as he left the king's presence to carry out his prescription. Can you imagine him seething as he shouted Mordecai's honor while leading his horse through the city square?
Afterward, Mordecai went back to guarding the king's gate, while Haman hurried home crying bitter tears of remorse. In his bitterness Haman failed to see God honor Mordecai's faithfulness that day. Because he did not acknowledge God, Haman closed the door to Heaven for his own soul. Though God tries to move people toward Himself, He does not violate His laws or established boundaries--our wills!
God's Faithfulness To All People
Chapter one of John's Gospel says Jesus is the true Light which enlightens EVERY person born. God cries out to get the attention of people many times throughout their lives. It is not His will that anyone should lose his soul, but that everyone would find eternal life and know Him.
Hell is an awful place, but people ignore God's voice, preferring to have their own ways. Sadly, when they die they go to hell, where they suffer loss, shame and torment forever.
At this juncture, Haman should have listened to his wife and wise counselors. With supernatural insight given by God, they advised, "You didn't tell us before that Mordecai is Jewish. That being the case, you're not going to win this battle." Even as they talked, the king's emissaries arrived to whisk Haman to Esther's second banquet.
If he had listened to the Spirit speaking through their advice, Haman immediately would have reconsidered his edict and sought a way to undo its harm. What more ideal setting could he have had than the dinner table? But the word of God reflects only his silence about it.
At another banquet centuries later, Judas took bread dipped in oil from Jesus, who already had said that the one receiving it would betray Him. Judas knew what Jesus meant, but he refrained from saying anything to the Master, lest he change his mind or prevent fulfillment of his awful plot.
True to the perfect character of His nature and obedience and submission to His Father, Jesus did not try to spare His own life by accusing Judas in front of the other men. Rather, in great love for His betrayer's soul, He gave him one last choice to voluntarily confess and come clean about his planned treachery. Judas refused his cue.
Had he said something, anything, to Jesus, he might have redeemed his soul. Instead, already the devil incarnate, Judas went into the night alone to betray Jesus and later hang himself in remorse. In such a way, Haman sealed his own fate that day, too.
Fulfillment Of Her Destiny
See how God moved in Esther's life because she listened to Him! After spending five years in the palace without seeming to accomplish anything extraordinary, suddenly she was thrust into the center of God's purpose. The devil, using Haman as his front man, had come against God by trying to wipe out the Jews before Messiah Yeshua could be born.
In response, the Jews with Esther and her court had radically fasted and prayed for three days and nights. Then Esther began walking the progressive steps of intercession for her own people, a journey her lifetime of obedience had prepared her to take.
For this second meal, she had more time to plan the menu. As the time drew near, she trembled, not from fear, but under the heavy anointing of God. At the appointed hour, Ahasuerus and Haman came to the table where waiters began serving them delicacies and wines.
When they had nearly finished eating...surely the king noticed that Esther hardly touched her meal...he was concerned and asked, "What is it that you want, Queen Esther? No matter what it is, you will have it. If it takes up to half the kingdom, it's yours."
Right then, the most unsuspecting person at the table was Haman. Regardless of what came from Esther's lips, it would bode well for him. Of all subjects in the kingdom, he was most safe.
Esther looked at the king (recall that her submission and obedience had won Ahasuerus' heart five years before and now were the character in which she lived). With his honor uppermost, she gave him choices, not ultimatums: "If I have found favor" and "If it pleases you." Her heart was pure before him.
Then she proceeded to ask for:
- her own life as her petition, and
- for the life of her people as her request
...one banquet for each plea.
Yet, to this point she had not identified the Jews by name. Proud as he was, Haman still probably suspected nothing.
Esther expanded her argument, telling the king she AND her people were sold or given over to destruction, death and annihilation. Haman began catching on!
She continued with humility toward Ahasuerus. Had her people been sold merely into slavery, she would not have bothered him about it, though it would have meant she would be torn from the palace and her position as queen. (Even King Ahasuerus could not reverse such an order, though his heart would break to lose her.)
The king still didn't realize Esther was referring to the evil edict written by Haman over his signet. However, irate that anyone presumed to commit such a horrendous crime against his wife, he asked Esther to identify the guilty person.
Notice how stunningly God staged Esther's progressive revelation of Haman's plot and his perfidy! Ahasuerus knew Mordecai was a Jew, because it was recorded in the Persian chronicles and he had just favored the man. So when Esther accused Haman, calling him an enemy and foe, the king saw the whole picture, especially that he had been deceived by his most trusted counselor!
The Power Of Fasting And Prayer
If the Jews had not prayed and fasted first, depending on God for their deliverance, this precarious situation for Esther and the Jews would have had a disastrous outcome. Three days and nights without food or liquids was a small sacrifice to make when their lives were in jeopardy. More than that, their desperation let God know He meant more to them than life's essentials or pleasantries.
As we allow the Holy Spirit to burden us about sin or our desire to know God intimately or the lostness of people or their needs until our appetite flees, we are on the way to supernatural breakthrough with God.
When Mordecai confronted Esther about petitioning the king on behalf of the Jews, he typifies the Holy Spirit's putting His heart's suffering for the welfare of others on us. So heavy does the burden fall, we are driven to fasting and prayer. Deep fellowship with God is found in the place of self-denial and earnestness for Him.
John the Baptist preached repentance from sins to prepare the Jewish nation to receive the earthly ministry of Jesus. Jesus said there was no prophet as great as John. The extraordinary anointing on his life and ministry resulted from his on-going Daniel fast of locusts and wild honey coupled with much prayer and total obedience. Each of us is called to self-denial if we will go deeper into God.
Prayer and fasting is not popular in this day of plenty and indulgence. Yet, we wonder why there is such powerlessness in the Body of Christ. When Jesus and His disciples came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they met a man whose son had a demon. In despair the boy's father asked Jesus why His men had not been able to deliver his son (even though they just had had a mountain top experience). Jesus' answer was simple, but profound: "This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
Ask God to teach you about fasting and to fast; He will do it! He will transform your walk with Him. Next time we shall see more effects of Esther's fast in this life of Spirit warfare.
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